CHICAGO, IL - JULY 20: Michael Martinez #19 of the Philadelphia Phillies dives into 2nd base for a steal against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on July 20, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Phillies defeated the Cubs 9-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
As I was perusing the vast landscape refereed to as “the Internet” in the last day and a half, I noticed that a shockingly large number of fans were taking the latest Phillies injury news -- that is, the loss of Michael Martinez due to a broken bone in his right foot -- rather hard.
Initially, it's easy to see why the fans would react in such a way, even if Martinez is a utility player that contributes very little on offense, because Martinez is another injury in a series of injuries that have left the team depleted and longing for additional depth, as they wait for both Chase Utley and Ryan Howard to get back on the field.
I suppose that reaction is normal, after all. It's spring training, everyone is bored with exhibition games, the cabin fever is starting to sink in, and if we don't get baseball soon, there's going to be trouble. So the news of yet another injury -- albeit to a minor actor in the grand scheme of things -- is less “we're doomed!” and more “this is getting ridiculous, you guys.”
So, if I may, allow me to assuage the fears of those fans who are actually freaking out or getting pushed to the edge over the temporary loss of Martinez: It's no big deal. Really, as handy as Martinez is -- he can play all infield and outfield positions with a certain level of skill -- his loss is really rather insignificant.
The Phillies have plenty of depth in the outfield, between starters Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence and (presumably) John Mayberry Jr., soon-to-be-starter (I hope) Domonic Brown, backup Laynce Nix, and a host of other would-be backups, including Scott Podsednik and Juan Pierre, among others.
In the infield, things aren't too much different without Martinez than they were with Martinez. His loss just means they need to find another utility infielder, at least on a temporary basis. And the good news? There is no shortage of light-hitting infielders who can play so-so defense. Look, there's one over there. And another one, over there! See what I mean?
In seriousness, the Phillies have Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco, Freddy Galvis, Jim Thome (who really shouldn't be counted upon for defense), and Ty Wigginton. Behind them, if needed, they've got Pete Orr and Hector Luna (who Dan wrote about earlier), not to mention any of the other players they could acquire on the cheap.
Ultimately, these injuries hurt, but the loss of Martinez pales in comparison to the loss of anyone who will provide some semblance of value over the next few months. If the Phillies can survive without Howard or Utley, they can certainly get by without Martinez.
But still, maybe Charlie Manuel should wrap everyone in old newspapers and bubble wrap. Just to be safe.